Odds are you’ve heard enough about Twitter and Facebook this year to make you nostalgic for the good old days of “e-mail” and phone trees — but once the frothy hype has been stripped away, it can be hard to tell if these new social-networking tools have anything to offer a commercial website. Like pay-per-click advertising, social media marketing has the potential to push real traffic to a new or forgotten website — and it can also be a colossal waste of time and/or money.
The evolving “social web” is increasingly interconnected, so a directed social-media marketing campaign will tend to produce a cluster of highly relevant, interconnected backlinks as well as an audience to (potentially) click them. When a company has something to communicate to its fans and customers — or, better, when a company gives its fans and customers something to communicate about — the social web offers an unprecedented venue for complex, real-time interaction.
Unfortunately the social web is a fickle source of traffic, and its SEO value is highly dependent on fresh content and propagation across other social-media sites (the ever-so-elusive “Buzz” factor). Too often a website will leap headlong into “the Facebook” only to abandon its social-media presence within a few weeks or months because an expected surge in traffic never materialized. Social media marketing is a powerful tool, but its potential is wasted without regular updates and a clear purpose connecting the social space and the commercial space.